Indian weightlifters claimed nine medals at the Commonwealth Games in Australia. With a weightlifting contingent of 16, more than half the lifters have found a place on the podium.
Since their first Silver at the 1966 games, India has won 124 medals in the powersport.
But success at the Commonwealth Games has never translated into success at the Asian Games or even the Olympics. Despite an enviable haul in the last 20 years, India won one medal each at the Asian Games and the Sydney Olympics. Karnam Malleswari picked up a silver and bronze at the two multi-disciplinary meets respectively.
India have consistently maintained a strong podium presence at the Commonwealth Games. From the late 1990s to the early 2000s, that haul was accentuated by an extra event for the combined, the snatch and the clean and jerk resulting in numerous medals. Since the change after the 2006 games, Indian weightlifters have regularly stayed on top of the medals at the Commonwealth Games. This year’s haul is no different.
However, among the big three medal-fetching sports for India – shooting, wrestling and weightlifting, the latter has barely been able to translate success when faced with a higher level of competition.
Coming into the Commonwealth Games, the weightlifters were expected to do well at the lower weights. Coach Vijay Sharma had admitted as much prior to the Games. The likes of 18-year-old Deepak Lather have shown that even without a lot of built-up strength, good technique can fetch you a medal.
Shooters have won 32 medals and wrestlers have taken 15 medals at the Asian Games since 2002. In the same period, India’s weightlifters have won a solitary silver medal in 1998. At the last Asian Games, China had won seven of the 15 gold medals on offer, with North Korea winning four. These are the countries that India will have to compete with, in order to be the best in Asia.
So though the likes of Mirabai Chanu, Sathish Kumar Sivalingam and a slew of others decimated their competition, they’ll have to step it up at the Asian Games in August to stand a chance at the Olympic level.
And as Mirabai herself said, that should be the real target, going ahead from Gold Coast.